The Wicked Deep: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

cover art for The Wicked Deep by Shea EarnshawTwo hundred years ago in the town of Sparrow three sisters were drowned as witches. Every year since then the Swan sisters have returned to Sparrow, claiming the bodies of unwitting local girls and using them to wreak their vengeance on the town by drowning boys foolish enough to fall under their sway.

Every Swan Season is the same, ending only when each sister has claimed a new victim.

Penny can see what others can’t including long buried secrets about the sisters and the Swan Season. But she knows that secret can only go so far against a curse. She is used to watching the Swan Season unfold with wary detachment, certain that this one will be  like all the others ending with death, suspicion, and grief.

Except this year there is a new outsider in town—a boy named Bo who refuses to believe the Swan sisters can pose any real danger to anyone, especially him. A boy that Penny is determined to protect. As the Swan Season unfolds Penny and Bo will work together to unravel the truth of the curse and the sisters. But as the Swan Season nears its end Penny realizes that the only way to save Bo might be by sacrificing herself in The Wicked Deep (2018) by Shea Earnshaw.

Find it on Bookshop.

The Wicked Deep is Earnshaw’s debut novel.

The Wicked Deep is a tense bit of fantasy woven through with suspense as the novel builds toward the disastrous conclusion of the Swan Season. Penny’s first person narration is frank and often cynical with lyrical prose as she slowly searches for a way to break the curse and save Bo.

This story is filled with twists and surprises about both Penny and Bo. Unfortunately the story also flags in the second act as Penny and Bo repeatedly discuss what ending the curse might entail and how far they are willing to go if it means freeing the island from the sisters’ menace forever.

The Wicked Deep is an atmospheric story filled with witches, secrets, and a scorching romance with far-reaching consequences. Recommended for readers looking for a spooky book to read curled up by a fire and fans of Practical Magic especially.

Possible Pairings: The Leaf Reader by Emily Arsenault, Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle, Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton, The Nature of Witches by Shea Earnshaw, Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

Tiger Lily: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love  story, but not like any you’ve heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn’t win. In some places, there is something ultimately good about endings. In Neverland, that is not the case.”

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn AndersonNeverland is a beautiful, dangerous place. It’s an island where aging can be contagious, mermaids can drown you, and pirates terrorize the Lost Boys who are so savage they might eat you–boys who, according to rumors, might even fly. There are also the Cliff Dwellers and the Bog Dwellers. And somewhere between the two, the Sky Eaters, who remember every sunset they see and fear the wrath of their gods as much as the dreaded aging sickness.

For a place that is so small and hidden away, Neverland can be a very large place. Especially for a fairy. Fairies are mute, unable to speak but also empathic and tuned to everything around them. Before she was called Tinker Bell, she knew Tiger Lily and her history–part of the Sky Eaters but also half feral and hungry for more–as much an outsider in her tribe as one stubborn fairy.

Like everyone else, Tiger Lily (and Tink too) know to stay away from the Lost Boys and the fierce boy named Pan who leads them.

But when Tiger Lily saves one life it sets her on a path that will lead her directly to Peter Pan and threaten everything she holds dear as one small fairy tells the story of a love that might always have been doomed and her own small role in Tiger Lily (2012) by Jodi Lynn Anderson.

Find it on Bookshop.

If you haven’t guessed already, Tiger Lily is a retelling of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. This version, however, focuses on what happens before Wendy ever arrives in Neverland. It is also narrated by my favorite character, Tinker Bell.

While it seems strange, giving a mute character the chance to narrate a story, it works well in Tiger Lily. Able to observe many things and intuit emotions, Tinker Bell is almost an omniscient narrator who often fades away until something important must be told.

Tiger Lily builds Neverland into a place that is both marvelous and monstrous as Tiger Lily and Tink explore all of its dangers and beauties. Part-retelling, part love story,this novel is also a complex examination of how colonization and industrialization changed the world.

Anderson expertly separates Tiger Lily from its source material to make Tiger Lily a complicated, flawed character who finally has her own voice. Tinker Bell is equally well-realized as the novel focuses not just on Tiger Lily and Peter’s difficult romance but also Tink’s evolving relationship with the characters. Tiger Lily is an unconventional, satisfying story that starts with Peter Pan but becomes much more before its conclusion.

Possible Pairings: Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron, Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, Winterspell by Claire Legrand, For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff, The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick, Never Never by Brianna Shrum, Everland by Wendy Spinale, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin